Charles and Camilla fall under the spell of Lissadell
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall took a little time out of a hectic and often emotional schedule of events yesterday to relax for a short while in the beautiful house and grounds of Lissadell.
The entire Walsh-Cassidy clan - Eddie Walsh, Constance Cassidy and their seven children - had been up since 4am readying the stunning house for the royal visit to the estate which was once home to the Gore-Booth family, and also made famous by WB Yeats, who wrote of its "great windows open to the south".
Constance Cassidy is the daughter of Judge John and former senator Eileen Cassidy and was raised in Ballymore Eustace in Co Kildare with her three sisters and three brothers - two of her sisters also became lawyers.
She met her husband, Laois-born Eddie Walsh (who comes from a farming background) while both were in the Law Library.
The duchess was the first to arrive, dressed in a sage green coat and sporting the gold Claddagh brooch which she was presented with the previous day at Claddagh National School.
She was greeted by the owners of Lissadell, before being escorted into the chandeliered Gallery.
A room had been prepared so she could rest, but after 15 minutes, Camilla was ready to explore the house.
"She is a lady of determination and stamina, and after a quarter of an hour she was back among us, meeting over 50 guests," said Eddie Walsh.
She was introduced to the seven Cassidy Walsh children, Elanor, Harry, Kate, Constance junior, Jane, John and Eddie, chatting about their studies, and was then taken to a side table where she signed a copy of The Highgrove Florilegium, watercolours of plants on Highgrove estate. "It's a limited edition two-volume work, and one was already signed by her husband, so she kindly signed the other," he added.
The duchess also discussed cattle and farming with octogenarian Liam Walsh, Eddie's father, who is still working on his farm in Co Laois.
Prince Charles arrived separately and had a private meeting inside the house, before the arrival of Timothy Knatchbull, who survived the IRA explosion which killed his twin brother Nicholas, and his wife Isabella.
Later they stood with the Cassidy Walshes as Prince Charles unveiled a bronze plaque designed by Patrick O'Reilly. The Gore-Booth family and the Temple family of Classiebawn in Mullaghmore, which was formerly the home of Lord Mountbatten, had been friends for generations.
Prince Charles was taken on a tour of some of the extensive collection of memorabilia and artefacts amassed by avid historian Eddie Walsh, including items from the Battle of Waterloo which was fought almost exactly 200 years ago on June 18, 1815.
"He loved the Waterloo collection, particularly a Legion d'Honneur medal found on the battle-site," said Eddie.
Constance Cassidy said that she and her husband had extended the invitation to the royal couple and that they had been "sitting on the news for four months".
Before the royal pair departed for Mullaghmore, Constance Cassidy invited them to return to Lissadell, especially since they expressed regret at not seeing the gardens. "The duchess said she intended to come back and enjoy it all over again," she said.